When I was 15, I tore out a beginner’s triathlon training guide from one of my mom’s fitness magazines, signed up for a race in Luray, VA, bought a bike, and jumped in the pool. It was the summer before my junior year of high school, and my friends had all left for the summer to study marine biology in Florida. I was lonely, bored, and didn’t really like my job as a research assistant in a lab. I still didn’t really know what entrepreneurship was, although I had dabbled in child-level businesses for a few years. For one reason or another, though, I was drawn to the idea of accomplishing a race that required such diverse skills and such a high level of commitment and intensity. It was a challenge I couldn’t pass up. My first race was incredibly satisfying – I took 1st in my age group and felt very accomplished when I crossed the finish line. The feeling was addictive. Over the next few years I continued to keep up my training and to compete about once a year.
During my senior year of college, I competed in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, which occurs in conjunction with a conference for regional entrepreneurs. I had the opportunity to attend several seminars and lectures given by successful entrepreneurs. I got to hear their stories, listen to their advice, and absorb their management style. Through their talks, they would always share a portion of their personal journey that accompanied their professional success. It was shocking to me how many of these successful, busy entrepreneurs were also Ironmen, or some type of endurance athlete.
But it was through this experience that I realized that at our core, all entrepreneurs are the same type of people operating on the same values; that we prime ourselves to be these durable, enduring beings – not for the sake of vanity but for the sake of success. To some degree, I believe that we all believe the fitter we are, the more productive we are. And the stronger we are, the more confident we become in our ability to lead, and the closer to success our team becomes with us to look up to.